Smoke alarm alerts teen to save family from fire - KPTV - FOX 12

Smoke alarm alerts teen to save family from fire

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Portland teen is being hailed a hero for saving his family from an early-morning blaze in Southeast Portland Sunday. 

“I heard the alarm and then I smelled a little bit of  smoke,” 17-year-old Caden Bessette said Sunday afternoon. "I opened my door, and then our whole house is just filled with smoke. I looked outside, and I just see flames coming out of our garage, and I run back to my parents room and yell to get them up.”

Jessica Harrison, her partner, and their daughter were all asleep while the fire was ripping through the garage of their rental home on SE 160th Ave.

“We’re thankful. It really is because of him— we had no idea,” Harrison said.  “I can’t say enough about having working smoke detectors because that’s what really saved us and that’s what alerted him.”

Harrison said one of their cats died, but all four family members and three other pets survived. 

Although much of the home still stands, Harrison said it is a total loss. The family wasn’t able to save much other than some clothing and doesn’t have renter’s insurance. Many priceless possessions were destroyed.

"My baby clothes, stuff that the kids had done in school, there’s some videos that can’t be replaced, things that I had as a kid — like my report cards, stuff that was important to me — that stuff is all gone, there’s nothing left,” Harrison said. 

The Red Cross is assisting the family, and Harrison said they received $700 to stay in a hotel until they found new housing. There's worry they won’t be able to find another four-bedroom house in their price range. 

“We just went through a rent hike about six months ago, but even just looking today on what would be a comparable place to live— there’s nothing — everything is several hundred dollars more, if not a thousand dollars more a month,” Harrison said. 

The family spent a few hours Sunday at a local laundromat trying to wash smoke out of clothing. There were some tears as they looked at photos of the house. They said the shock is still setting in.

Bessette doesn’t like to think about what could have happened, had he not woken up to the alarm.

“The fire could have been closer to us and we would have had to jump out the windows, and probably lost everything. And the animals would have been goners,” Bessette said. "They’re are so many ways this could have been way more worse -- I’m just grateful it happened the way it did.”

A Go Fund Me account https://www.gofundme.com/2ggxs3s4 has been set up to help the family replace lost items and get into a new home. As of Sunday afternoon, about $1,630 was raised. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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